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Good, better, and best
Artlink's 7th regional show
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
In an art world of gigantic national and international biennials, those who keep up with all of these goings on may look over the smaller shows like Artlink’s 7th Regional (biennial) Exhibition which includes artists within 100 miles of Fort Wayne. However, it and shows like it are an important bridge for early and emerging artists to cross on their way up and out into the larger art world.
The importance of this show is the great exposure which the artist gets, especially the three Regional Award Winners, who each receive $500 and get to have a three person show at Artlink in the following year (as of this writing, the winners of this year’s show have not yet been chosen). The confidence gained from this type of exhibition can also have lasting effects on the young artists. And finally, and frankly, these types of juried exhibitions are very important in critiquing artists work and making them, in the end stronger and better artists by not entering them into the exhibition, or choosing them for an award. As in all of the past Regional shows, this one showcases a wonderful group of artists, many of which deserve so much more attention than can be achieved in one article. With a continued dedication to their art, and the attention of a hungry public, some of these artists have a great chance at expanding into larger art markets.
This years Regional encompassed a fairly large variety of media, including collage, large scale sculpture and installation, prints, drawings, and various forms of painting. I was especially happy to see the contemporary forms of drawing presented by Marie Gardeski,
a very talented artist whose provocative work mixes dreamlike images, sometimes childish sometimes masterful draftsmanship, and a slightly dark humor to her work.
Other artists present in this show include Alexander Jones and his large format faces, Adrew Lemmon’s large wooden sculptures somewhat referencing Martin Puryear’s work, Susan Suraci’s almost kitschy landscape paintings. Cara Lee Wade, the University of Saint Francis photography professor is included this year with three photos from her “The Glass Nighty” series of photos documenting the lives of her friends in Savannah, Georgia. Karen Moriarty and her beautiful, minimal piece entitled “No More Zero” was also included, which included collage work and drawing to constitute a sublime somewhat non-objective space, which is far different than much of her work.
Another artist who works in a non-objective style of painting, and who deserves much much more attention is David Seculoff, who has two large acrylic on paper paintings in the Regional, entitled “Untitled 2”, and “Untitled 3”. These beautiful two-toned paintings are reminiscent of a variety of things, from Gerhard Richter’s abstract works, to a New York City wall weathered by the elements and all of the flyers posted on it, to aerial maps, to any number of quietly destroyed surfaces. There is an intuitive feeling about the construction of the pieces as well, similar to the Shui-mo method of Chinese painting. It is as though the entirety of the surface was painted at once. The ambiguity inherent in a non-objective painting is magnified by Seculoff’s use of rather ambiguous colors as well. The dark areas are deep browns to blacks while the light “obviously” turquoise color hovering above the black/brown is upon further inspection in transition from a whitish-green to a turquoise. These shifting colors give the pieces a resonant energy when seen in person.
I was most impressed by the printmaker and draftsman Joshua Witten, and his three pieces “The March Hare,” “Easy Programming,” and “Frida Kahlo.” Witten has combined a cubist spatial form, comic-like illustration, and the best of pop culture into a very powerful personal style. “The March Hare” is lithograph with watercolor. While the main image of the hare is compelling and very well done, the structure of the lithograph and the presentation are far more engrossing, being left with a wide margin, and with the test colors visible at the top of the image. This honesty is referenced in his draftsmanship as well, with lines plotted out like a map of how each image was drawn. This very inviting and populist style of drawing may not seem important at first, but when compared to the academic style of making a virtuoso collection of line meant to produce awe in the viewer, one can find very powerful concepts at work in the foundation of Witten’s work.
“Frida Kahlo,”(graphite on paper) is the best example of this line work, which begs the viewer to decompose the image into its parts. The weight of her body against the vignetted garments works very well, especially with the comic style blocked in shapes of her face and neck. “Easy Programming” an etching with pencil and watercolor, though not as provoking as the structural experimentation and line work of the other two pieces, is a great print in itself, showing off Witten’s technique as a well versed printmaker and mixed media artist. Hopefully Fort Wayne will get to see more of him soon.
Artlink’s 7th Regional Exhibition: October 17-December 3, 2008
Opening Reception: October 17th, 7-9pm
Patricia Nelson from Ball State University will chose the award winners.
Hallway Gallery: Works by Dixie Bradley